Almost impossibly, the 1990 It miniseries is one of the 20th centuries most enduring pieces of horror media. What very easily could’ve fallen into the deluge of straight-to-TV adaptions of Stephen King’s work – think Salem’s Lot, 1997’s The Shining or 2002’s Carrie – instead birthed one of the most enduring horror icons of its generation. Over three decades on and this new documentary, Pennywise: The Story of It, is here to dive deeper into the making of this two-part horror hit, examining just why its legacy is so fervent.

It’s all held together by truly unparalleled access to the brains and bodies behind It, aside from its original scribe, Stephen King. Everyone from director Tommy Lee Wallace to original screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen is here, all with frank revelations to make. This isn’t your average making-of documentary, focusing on all the good things about production with no critical insight, but instead allows its interviewees to lament the parts of the miniseries that didn’t quite work.

It’s in these moments where Pennywise: The Story of It is absolutely required watching for fans of the original, the 2017 and 2019 remakes, or the novel. It’s so much more than a chronological charter of how the series was made, but also an interrogation of the wider story itself: what makes clowns scary, the context surrounding the book, and ways in which the book falls short. From the controversial sex scene towards the end to the climax where It turns into a large spider, this documentary lets its subjects say exactly what they think, even when some have differing views to others.

Most of all, it’s just brimming with interesting stories from production that add a nostalgic sheen to the original series. There’s footage of Tim Curry joyfully riffing between takes, stories about the kids getting in trouble for laughing and not focusing on set, and even touching details on the actors’ personal lives. The most emotive moment derives from a story told by Jarred Blancard, who played a young Henry Bowers. He details his father’s attitude towards his fledgling acting career, and very movingly tells how this all changed upon his casting in Stephen King’s It. It’s touching and human, which is what the documentary does best.

Equally, it’s an absolute delight to hear from Tim Curry himself, the ultimate face behind Pennywise the Clown. Medical circumstances have led to his retreat from the public eye, so it’s a treat to hear so many stories about his experience playing the iconic clown, from his reluctance around prosthetics to how he tried to keep the children scared on-set. More than anything, Pennywise: The Story of It is a tribute to his splendid performance and unerring professionalism, so it’s great to see Curry get the plaudits he deserves.

However, you are occasionally left wondering why the film skirts over some fairly important contextual topics. The tragic death of Jonathan Brandis, who played young Bill and struggled with fame afterward, is addressed briefly but not fully explored with a meaningful lens. When the documentary’s second act devotes so much time to painstakingly detailing the casting of each principle character, you do wonder whether time could’ve been better spent focusing on the topics around the film’s production that may be more difficult to address.

But that’s a minor gripe in a two-hour documentary that fans of the original It miniseries will absolutely lap up. Not only does it explore just why the series has enjoyed such an enduring legacy, but is also provides so much behind-the-scenes detail that it’ll make you want to go and rewatch it all over again. Most of all though, it reaffirms just how magical Tim Curry’s haunting performance as Pennywise is – and how it’ll continue to scare generations of horror fans in the future.


Pennywise: The Story of It will be available on Digital Download from 3rd October and Blu-ray & DVD from 24th October.